Manchester United had a constructive first season underneath supervisor Erik ten Hag. It was meant to be the muse for the Dutchman to take his workforce onto larger and higher issues, however after 4 months of this marketing campaign, the temper round Previous Trafford is darkening, and Ten Hag is underneath strain.
A 3rd-place end within the Premier League, successful the Carabao Cup and reaching an FA Cup closing felt like an honest staging publish for United to kick on underneath the previous Ajax coach, however to date, it hasn’t occurred.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga & extra (U.S.)
We take a look at the important thing causes and whether or not they are much worse off than they had been on the similar stage final season.
The striker dilemma
United completed third final season, however they had been the bottom scorers within the prime six with 58 targets in 38 video games. They had been additionally second for “massive possibilities missed” with 71, and there was an expectation amongst followers that the membership would herald an elite striker to assist repair the issue.
The membership made no secret that signing a No. 9 was their precedence forward of the brand new season, however in a switch window throughout which Harry Kane was accessible, United as an alternative signed extremely rated — although unproven — teenager Rasmus Højlund.
Hojlund, 20, has netted 5 occasions within the Champions League however is but to attain a aim within the Premier League. Though he might develop right into a top-level striker in time, he isn’t there but. For his or her half, United insist that signing Kane was by no means a sensible choice due to the numbers (switch payment, wages) concerned, and in addition Tottenham’s reluctance to do a take care of a Premier League rival. It means for a second season in a row, they’re struggling for targets.
After 14 league video games, United have scored 16 targets, the bottom return of any workforce within the prime 10. It is just one greater than Everton and Burnley, who’re within the relegation locations.
What is going on on with Marcus Rashford?
Related to the difficulty with Højlund is Marcus Rashford’s kind. Rashford scored 30 targets in all competitions final season, however has managed simply two this season — a kind of was a penalty at Everton that was handed over by Bruno Fernandes for the England ahead to take.
If Rashford was scoring recurrently it will take the strain off Højlund, however he is appeared a shadow of the participant he was final season and has been recurrently substituted by Ten Hag throughout video games when United are determined for a aim. He was changed after 61 minutes towards Newcastle this previous weekend even whereas his facet trailed 1-0.
– Ogden: What is going on on with Rashford?
Rashford needs to play on the left of the entrance three, however he is needed to compromise this season, both beginning at centre-forward when Højlund was injured in August or making do with a spot on the precise due to Alejandro Garnacho’s kind on the opposite facet.
The hazard for Ten Hag is that Rashford has typically discovered it onerous to elevate himself out of goal-scoring slumps. He managed simply 5 in the course of the 2021-22 season, and United cannot afford for him to have one other marketing campaign of such little productiveness.
Ten Hag has tried to not make excuses right here, however he is being coping with a protracted harm listing because the summer time and towards Newcastle, he had seven first-team gamers out injured (Lisandro Martínez, Casemiro, Mason Mount, Christian Eriksen, Jonny Evans, Tyrell Malacia and Amad Diallo), plus Jadon Sancho, who has been exiled from the squad since September for disciplinary causes.
Simply in defence, the harm issues this season have meant that Ten Hag has picked eight completely different combos at centre-back (Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw had been paired collectively within the centre of defence for the primary time at Newcastle) and 5 completely different gamers at left-back (Shaw, Sergio Reguilón, Diogo Dalot, Victor Lindelöf and Sofyan Amrabat). Followers are elevating reputable considerations about recruitment on condition that Ten Hag has spent near £400 million on new gamers since taking up as supervisor in the summertime of 2022, however he would seemingly declare that he isn’t had his first-choice XI accessible as soon as this season.
There’s additionally a query mark whether or not the lengthy listing of accidents is just right down to unhealthy luck, or if there is a connection between common muscle accidents and Ten Hag’s desire for intense coaching classes over added relaxation and recuperation in the course of the hectic fixture schedule.
Burley: One other embarrassing efficiency for Man United
Craig Burley rips into Manchester United after their 1-0 loss to Newcastle United within the Premier League.
Are United worse off than final season?
United’s Premier League file after 14 video games is fairly just like their file on the similar stage final season. Thus far within the league in 2023-24, they’ve performed 14 video games, received eight, misplaced six, scored 16, conceded 17, and have 24 factors. After 14 video games of final season, that they had received eight, misplaced 4, scored 20, conceded 20, and had 26 factors.
Neither is nice, however the largest distinction between this season and final is in Europe.
United’s patchy league kind was boosted by a clean Europa League group marketing campaign after they received 5 of their six video games and scored 10 targets. However this season within the Champions League could not have gone a lot worse. They received simply certainly one of 5 video games and conceded 14 targets, together with 11 of their three away video games.
There has additionally been a scarcity of assertion wins to elevate the temper. By this level final season, United had overwhelmed Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham. This season, they’ve performed 5 of the present prime 10 (Arsenal, Manchester Metropolis, Tottenham, Newcastle and Brighton) and misplaced all of them.